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Turkish Airlines is about to become the latest Dreamliner customer. Boeing and Turkish announced on Thursday that the Istanbul-based carrier intends to place an order for 40 787-9 Dreamliners, in a deal worth nearly $11 billion at list prices. The announcement caught the aerospace world somewhat by surprise; rumors had been swirling of a possible Turkish order for the 747-8, but ultimately the carrier went for a smaller jet.

At this point, the order has still to be finalized, but commitments to buy typically turn into actual orders. This is a big move for Turkish, which could expand its long-range fleet substantially with the order, and enlarge its route network. Because the deal isn’t yet finalized, we don’t have information on when Turkish could begin taking delivery of the new 787s or what routes these Dreamliners could operate.

The 787-9 has the range to get pretty much anywhere nonstop from Istanbul; next month Qantas will put it in service on the longest scheduled flight in the world, a staggering 9,000-plus mile journey from Perth to London.

It’s not clear if these new Dreamliners will replace any aircraft in Turkish’s current fleet or if they’ll join as new additions. Turkish’s current widebody fleet consists of four Airbus A340s, 53 Airbus A330s and 33 Boeing 777-300ERs. The A340s are due for retirement soon.

The Dreamliner order is a good sign for Turkish looking forward. The carrier, which was one of the airlines included in the electronics ban, seemed to be in a financial hard place not long ago. Following a military coup attempt in Turkey, the carrier announced that it was cutting some flights. However, with the addition of these 40 new Dreamliners, it looks like the carrier could be on the upswing.

Such a large order for a mid-size widebody would also confirm that airlines really, really don’t want to order large jets anymore. Boeing and Airbus have both had lately a challenging time selling large planes, as airlines are wary of the risk of flying with unsold seats. At around 250 seats and with very attractive fuel economy, the 787-9 sits below the 777-300ER in capacity, but offers lower costs per seat-mile.

Boeing and Turkish also announced a new initiative, the Boeing Turkey National Aerospace Initiative, meant to support the Turkish aerospace industry while helping to strengthen Boeing’s presence in the market.

Featured image by Boeing.

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